Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 6/27

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River is trying to drop, but is more staying constant with small daily bumps and a gradual decline in flow. The clarity is decent, and if you’re floating, you can get it done with Salmon Flies up top but quickly waning and Goldens are starting to show, as well as Green Drakes on the cloudy days. The wading is not easy on the Bitterroot right now, but if the river keeps dropping as it is now, we expect this to get a lot better in the next week. The forks are fishing well, again with few Salmon Flies and Goldens.
Green Drakes have been seen, and a few fish are taking advantage, but you need to find the soft spots to get the fish to come to the surface. The same is applying to the PMD’s, PED’s and Tan Caddis. As the river drops, these flies will become more important on the surface. The nymphs are important right now, and a PT jig, G Kes or a Caddis Pupa will move fish underneath the surface.
Streamers are definitely working, especially in the more colored water closer to Missoula. The Drunk And Disorderly, with it’s flat face, sends out vibrations to fish and moves them in stained water. Gongas, Dungeons, the Boogie Man and other streamers with bulky heads are working as well. If you have a sink-tip or a sinking leader, definitely bring it. While the water is slowly dropping, the Bitterroot is still big, and the extra depth will help your streamer perform.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot is dropping steadily in this heat, which means it will start to drop quickly in the next few days. At the moment, it’s a lot more friendly to floating anglers, though the further you go up the river, the better the wading will be. Remember the first 5 miles of the Recreational Corridor road is being paved, and is closed from Johnsrud to Whitaker Bridge. If you want to access the recreational corridor, you’ll need to drive to Roundup and come down from the top.
The Blackfoot is really fishing well with Streamers right now. Big streamers, little streamers- the big fish are eating little fish, and the streamer fishing is really good. The lower river is still a bit off color, so darker streamers down there, but as you go upstream, a lighter streamer has been just as effective. Bring the big streamer stick if you have one- a sink tip is getting the fly where the fish are, especially down low. A sinking leader will work as well. Pick your streamers to match your rod weight. It’s more important to get the fly close to the fish. If you can cast a big fly accurately, the Blackfoot is for you!
The Salmon Flies and Golden Stones are being eaten with regularity on the Blackfoot. The dry fly fishing is better the higher up you go, as the clarity is better. Still use the bigger, brighter bugs, and again, accuracy is more important. The Blackfoot is bank full, and the trout are hugging bottom and sides. Better to have a thicker tippet for accuracy. The Morningwood Special or a Juicy Stone is good on top. The tweener fly of choice is the Juicy Stone Golden, which does double duty as a Salmon Fly as well. The Rogue Golden and the Half Down Golden are producing as well. Of course, a dropper or double nymph rig is very effective, and a Double Bead Stone or big Pat’s Rubberlegs are working their magic subsurface.
Green drakes are being eaten, but with the higher flows, it’s more about finding where the water is soft enough to allow the trout to set up for the hatch. If you find the hatch, most flies close in appearance are being eaten. Make sure to have a couple of Parachute Green Drakes and a Flash Cripple or two to meet the hatch. For subsurface action, a big PT Jig Nymph and the Emerald Salvation Nymph are pulling in the fish. Get them deep enough!
PMD’s, PED’s and tan caddis are being seen, but the flows are such that the fish are taking less interest in the smaller bugs and focusing on the Salmonflies and Golden Stones. The nymphs of these smaller bugs are working, so have the G Kes, Yellow Spot Jig or the Umpqua PT Jig to take advantage of the subsurface smorgasbord. The smaller dries will begin to assert themselves when the water drops a bit, so be tready in the next few days.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

The Middle and Lower Clark Fork river are still high and off color, though the off color is now more green than brown, which is a good sign! The upper Clark is fishing well on the upper, and the way upper stretch by Warm Springs is wading well.
The Golden and Salmon Fly hatches in the upper section are what we expect, present but not strong. It’s dry/dropper up here, with the dropper doing most of the work. A TJ Hooker or a Pat’s Rubberlegs is working well on the upper stretches. An Orange Chubby makes a great indicator, and will pick up a few fish. The goldens are being seen, and in the upper stretches, the smaller Goldens like the Henry’s Fork or Rogue Golden is working.
When it comes to the Middle and Lower sections, it’s going to be streamer time before it’s dry fly time. If the rivers continue to drop at this rapid rate, we expect the Middle Clark Fork to be seeing some good streamer action in 4-5 days, with the lower section a few days later. As the biggest drainage in the area, the Clark Fork takes a bit longer to round into shape. A bit of patience is needed from Missoula on down, but keep an eye our for that magical streamer green ,and take advantage.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

The heat is here and Rock Creek is dropping, which means the river is definitely rounding into shape. There’s still some Salmonflies kicking around, and the big orange floaters like the Morningwood Special and Rio’s Juicy Stone are still productive. But as the river drops and the fish start to move off the banks, the smaller, lower floating flies like Gould’s Half-Down Salmon Fly, Rogue Stone, Cat Puke and the Morrish Still Stone are working too. If you have the bright orange bugs, a quick application of brown or black magic marker will get them looking a lot more natural.
Golden Stones and Yellow Sallies are along the length of the river. The bigger Goldens, like the Dancing Ricky and the El Camino. The same applies to the Goldens- as the river drops, the duller, more natural Goldens will start to work. The Henry’s Fork Golden, Rogue Golden and the Demoe’s Mill Creek are some low floating bugs that will move the fish. The lower the flows get, the more important the Yellow Sallies will be. Make sure you have them with you.
Looking for a tweener- A fly that may be a Golden, may be a Salmon Fly? The Juicy Stone Golden or the Fluttering Golden will fit that bill perfectly.
If you choose to go subsurface which you shouldn’t have to, a big Pat’s Rubberlegs in brown will cover both golden and Salmon Fly nymphs. If you’re looking for more realism, the Double Bead Stone in Peacock (Salmon Fly) and the Double Bead Hare’s Ear (Golden Nymph)
The Green Drakes are being taken, in more places every day as the river drops. The Carnage Drake and the Parachute Green drake are working well. If you run across a little fussier fish, a Sparkle Cripple Green Drake has been very effective. The Emerald Salvation Nymph is taking fish subsurface.
The PMD’s are starting to be eaten as well- again more as the river drops. The PED’s and Tan Caddis are the same. Make sure to have them, but they won’t be super important on the surface for about a week. Unless you find a soft spot, and then they’ll be important now! But the nymphs and pupa are important right now, so make sure to have PT Tungsten Jigs, Tan Caddis Pupa and Yellow Hot Spots to move the fish close to the bottom.
If you can take your eyes off the Salmon Flies and Goldens, the streamer fishing up here is pretty good! Sparkle Minnows are moving fish, as are the Mini Dungeons and Sculpzillas. The Dungeons are working on a sink tip or sinking leader, and right now Rock Creek is big enough to take a sinking line
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 6/20

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The bitterroot bumped with the recent rain and is slowly coming back down. The water is still big up here. Not a bad idea to give this one some time to come back down a little more. We’ve had some reports on the upper stretches that fished good before the bump but the lower end will take some time to calm down. The Salmonfly hatch has been inconsistent over the last few weeks on the upper, they’ve been out heavy in the sun but are starting to wane. Be ready for the Golden Stone hatch on the upper soon.
We’re still doing our best to scout some of these stretches but with the fluctuating water the river is constantly changing, we’re waiting for it to drop back down after the recent rain event. Be careful if you decide to float. Might be a better idea to get out the tying vise, hit your favorite lake or wade smaller streams.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot river bumped in flows with the recent rain and is leveling off as of this morning. The Blackfoot has been the most consistent for us this last week with the dropping flows and warming temps. We started to get some Salmonfly dry fly action on the lower end but nothing to really write home about. The nymphing was consistent and the streamer fishing was also productive. We’re hoping the water continues to drop throughout this week. The forecast isn’t calling for much more rain after today, the warmer temps should bring a little more consistency to our flows opposed to the rain which can cause big spikes.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork is on it’s way up and not a great choice right now. The stretches above town should come back down quickly this week after the rain but the lower should be high and murky for a while. Much better options than the Clark Fork this week.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

We’ve had some awesome reports over the last week with warmer temps and dropping flows. The Salmonflies have been out and the fish are eating them. The last few days the water has bumped in flows but we expect that to come down in the coming days. If you’ve been paying attention to the flows, you’ve seen how quickly flows can drop this time of year after rain even through the warmer temps. They’re up now but should drop again this week.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 5/4

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

Looks like the bonus fishing has ended on the Bitterroot. In the last 24 hours, the Bitterroot has almost doubled in size, and that’s bringing a lot of color into the water. If you’re thinking of heading to the ‘Root, you’re going to be driving to the East or West Forks, and even then it’s not a given. Keep in mind the tribs don’t open until the 3rd Saturday in May, so they’re off limit till then.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

Monture Creek is pumping mud into the Blackfoot River, so the fishing below Scotty Brown Bridge is going to be very difficult. As of today, the upper Blackfoot is rising and off color, but still fishable. But with the higher temps in the forecast, we don’t expect that to last to the weekend. If you’re going to give it a try, go as high as you can, and be ready for sub-surface only. If there’s enough visibility, streamers will be good, but it’s all dependent on the visibility. It’s a crap shoot
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

With Monture Creek pushing mud, the Clark Fork below the confluence will be off color and tricky to fish. The lower Clark Fork is rising slowly but consistently, and it looks like the fishing is going to really slow down below the Blackfoot.
The upper Clark Fork has remained consistent in its’ flows, and may be a good option for the angler. Make sure you get above Drummond to find the better fishing. But before you go, better check the USGS web site to make sure the river hasn’t bumped with the warm weather. Bring your Skwalas and Western March Browns if the water levels stay steady, but if it’s rising, it’s a sub-surface game.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek may be the best option at the moment. It’s come up 25% in the last 2 days, but is still clear enough to fish. The upper sections are still somewhat stable, and may kick out some dry fly fishing, but it looks like the bulk of the fishing will be subsurface. Make sure to have some streamers to take the bigger fish looking for the smaller fish dislodged by the rising water. If you head to the upper sections, bring your Skwalas and Western March Browns, but make sure to check the USGS Montana Stream Flow web site to check for unanticipated spikes in water flows.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

May Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fly Fishing Report 4/1

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot River has been really good, with consistent Skwalas in the afternoon with sun or clouds. The Gray/Olive Plan B and the Half Down Skwala are getting solid results on the surface, while a 20 Incher or Double Bead Peacock Stone is working sub-surface. The Nemoura Stones are also taking trout- drop a dry Nemoura off your Skwala so you can see the thing. Subsurface, a Black SR Frenchie is working as the nymph.


The Western March Browns are also establishing, and the fish are starting to look for them in the afternoon. Right now, a Purple Haze or parachute Adams are working, but as the fish get more accustomed to taking them, a Lexi’s Tactical Dun Gray or Parachute Hare’s Ear is going to be a better choice. You can pretty much choose your nymph in gray or brown, something like a Duracell Jig or a Hares Ear is working sub-surface.


We’re not hearing much about steamers, with most anglers on the Bitterroot focusing on the hatches, but a slim profile fly like a Skiddish Smolt or Sculpzilla will turn some heads. Keep it low and slow for best results.


The Bitterroot is slowly dropping along the length, and we expect the fishing to get better as the next few days progress. The rise in water, slowed things down, but that’s changing and the fishing is good on the ‘Root.


Play nicely with others- The Bitterroot is seeing some pressure, so do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River hasn’t really started to get good yet, and the recent increase in flow hasn’t helped. The Blackfoot is level, but not dropping yet, and it’s barely above 40 degrees. The fishing up here is slow, but there aren’t many people either. If you’re willing to put in the work, bring your Pat’s Rubberlegs, TJ Hookers and 20 Inchers, some additional weight and a patient attitude. Get the fly where the fish are and they’ll eat, but the colder water temps means the fish are a bit slow.


Same applies to streamers, get em deep, move them slowly, and it will pay off, but it won’t be hot and heavy. Of Missoula’s 4 rivers, the Blackfoot may be 4th choice, but you can get it done if you’re willing to go deep.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River

The Clark Fork river is a tale of two rivers at the moment. Above town, the fishing is good. Some Skwalas, the WMB’s are getting a foothold, and the streamer fishing is decent. In and below town, the Clark Fork has limited visibility, and might not be the first choice for angling.


If you do decide to hit the upper Clark Fork, make sure to have a few Rasta Skwalas. If you need some foam to float a dropper, Clook’s Floater will take fish on top while holding up a Hare’s Ear or Orange Spot Jig as a WMB nymph. When the WMB’s start hatching, have some Lexi’s Gray Tactical Duns and Parachute Hare’s Ear’s for the afternoon.


Bigger streamers have been working above town, with a Gonga or Baby Dungeon in white standing out. Make sure they get deep enough, the water is still cold.


Our feeling is the lower Clark Fork River might be fishing by the end of the weekend, but it may take a bit longer to get the color out of the water.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek has been fishing very well in the last couple of days as it drops in flows. The dry skywalks are consistent from early early afternoon on, with the Plan B Gray/Olive and a Rogue Skwala taking fish. The 20 Inches has been the skywalk nymph of choice, followed by the TJ Hooker. Nemouras are also working, so have a few when you head up to fish.


The Western March Browns are established, and offering consistent fishing on the upper and lower sections of Rock Creek. If you’re heading to the top of Rock Creek, take the P-Burg route. The middle section of Rock Creek Road is still a bit gnarly. Have your Parachute hare’s Ears and Parachute Adams when the WMB’s start to hatch, and a DuraCell Jig or a Pink Hot Spot for working the bottom. It’s also worm season, and the San Juan Worm is taking ore than it’s fair share of fish.


The streamer game is low and slow, with the Sculpin Sparkle Minnow working extremely well. A Baby Gonga or White Sculpzilla is also moving fish, but again, get it deep for better production.


Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

March Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.

Frank Scott

Minimizing the Guide Footprint

The fly fishing industry in Missoula felt the razor sharpness of a double edged sword in 2021. Our outfitting has never been so busy! That’s great for us. Our outfitting has never been so busy!

We’ve never seen the rivers absorb so much usage. From every aspect, including float fishing, wade fishing and recreational floats, we saw unprecedented river use in Missoula. Let’s not kid ourselves, these aren’t the busy Bighorn or Madison angling numbers. While this may not be considered busy compared to other states and fisheries, it’s what we call Montana busy, slower than most places but busy compared to what we’re accustomed to. Missoula has never really been on the map as a destination- we don’t know why and we don’t complain. Missoula’s experienced guides were concerned about the higher traffic and substandard etiquette shown by novice guides and new boat owners. While guides make up less than 15% of the boats on many local rivers at any given time, pressure is a big topic of conversation with many local guides and outfitters. How to minimize the guide footprint, maximize client experience and do right by the rivers that provide so much more than employment.

As a shop, led by owner and outfitter Taylor Scott, the Missoulian Angler has decided to respond to the new normal. Whether others decide to follow this lead is beyond our purview- we can only do what we feel is correct for the resource, and best for our clients while making sure the oldest fly shop in Missoula keeps its doors open.

The Missoulian Angler has been outfitting for 35 years. We know what makes an exceptional guide and superior experience on the water. We understand every guide has to start somewhere, and use new guides every year. With our background, we’ve built and continue building an amazing core of Missoula MVP’s- guides who know our local rivers like the back of their hands, are comfortable with experts as well as newbies and capable of creating the best river experience for every client.

With that core in mind, with the resource in mind, we have decided to limit our outfitting to 6 boats a day, with no more than 3 boats on any given stretch of Missoula’s rivers. Is this in granite? No. There are always exceptions to the rule. Families needing more than 6 boats, or a corporate client providing Missoula’s best guiding experience for their employees, will be taken care of as we always have. Accommodations will go both ways. If you need more than 3 boats on a single stretch of river, we might choose a section of river better suited to handling more boats, with the fishing being the secondary factor. Again, this only applies to more than 3 boat groups on a stretch.

The Missoulian Angler will absorb a financial hit for this stance. That’s a short-term ramification. We feel 6 boats a day provides a good enough income level, balanced by the cushion to the resource. In the long term, it’s the rivers that bring anglers to Missoula. As outfitters, if we don’t notice and respond to situations or pressure, the resource will deteriorate at more rapid rate. At heart, every angler is a conservationist. The exceptional local and national support for our local West Slope Chapter and MT Trout Unlimited, The Clark Fork Coalition and the Watershed Education Network here in Missoula is extremely impressive, while groups proliferate along the Blackfoot River, Rock Creek and the Bitterroot River as well. The basis of each of these groups is to PASS ON THE RIVER IN AS GOOD OR BETTER SHAPE THAN WE FOUND IT.

The lead photo is Taylor’s great grandfather Frank Scott, fishing the Blackfoot River. At the time this photo was taken, he’s already a second generation Missoulian who introduced his son and grandson who eventually passed along to Taylor the joys of fly fishing, who in turn plans to pass this joy to his two young children. While time changes a river’s characteristics, it shouldn’t change the angling. Yes, we know it does, but as Dylan Thomas wrote,

Do not go gentle into that good night

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

This is Taylor Scott’s way of raging against the dying of the light. Now a 5th generation Missoulian angler, Taylor is saying we have the ability to change the trajectory for future generations to come. It has a cost, and the Missoulian Angler will pay that cost. We take this stand so others see conservation can be congruent with angling. It simply takes everyone taking a step back, reviewing their footprint, and modifying it to be just a little less. It’s how every journey starts, with someone making the first steps.

We’re not doing this to brag about our guides. We judge no one for the stance they take. This is the stance we’ve taken. We’re looking at this as a business, looking as local anglers, looking at the resource and making a decision based on our definition of a responsible business. We hope others see this and think it’s a good idea. It’s not necessary, but we sure hope it does. It’s our response to the summer of 2021. We pay attention to the resource, we pay attention to the clients, we pay attention to the situation. If the situation changes, we will as well. And when we make a change, we’ll let you know. What the change is, why we made the change and how it will affect our valued customers close and far from Missoula. Feel free to tell us what you think.

We could brag that capping our boats at 6 a day provides a superior experience for every Missoulian Angler client. Because it will. We could be passing judgement on other outfitters who don’t follow our view of how things should be. We’re not.

We’re not doing this to brag about our guides. We’re not judging anyone for the stance they take. This is the stance we’ve taken.

Missoula Fly Fishing Report

Missoula Fishing Report 6/7

Fly Fishing Report Brought To You By Our Missoula Fly Fishing Guides And Fly Shop Staff.

Enjoy and Good Luck!

Bitterroot River

The Bitterroot river is starting to clear along the length. It’s NOT clear, but it is fishable in the upper sections. Subsurface is the main game, big nymphs and streamers. The Salmon Flies have been sparsely spotted, but no reports of actual fish eating on the surface. So close we can taste it on the upper section, but don’t expect much till mid to late week.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips for each hatch

Blackfoot River

The Blackfoot River is still high and way off color, but it has been dropping for 48 hours and is starting to think about clearing. We think the big water bumps are mostly done, so expect the Blackfoot to be fishing by the weekend. If you’re looking to throw some big streamers to hungry fish, look for the weekend to make a start to summer on the Blackfoot.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Clark Fork River


The lower section of the lower Clark Fork River is blown, and will be for the foreseeable future. The upper section is fishing in spots, but is still not a great option. Most travelers are making the right at Drummond and heading to Rock Creek. If you go up high, it’s a nymph and streamer game for the most part. Have your Pat’s Rubberlegs in Brown and Black, and a few smaller streamers. If you get all the way to Warm Springs, have your scuds and leeches.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

Rock Creek

Rock Creek Flows have been dropping for the last 36 hours. The salmon flies are being seen on the lower river, and a few fish are coming to the surface. The river is still above normal flows, so waders should be very careful as you hit the water. Water temps are dropping and will stay down for the next 4 days, if the weather holds to prediction. Start subsurface with a Peacock Double Bead Stone, Brown Pat’s Rubberlegs or Black/Brown TJ Hooker. Now’s the fun time for Salmon dries, so when the adults hit the water, be ready with a Dancing Ricky, Damien’s SUV or any big, foamy bug with lots of rubberlegs. It’s early in the hatch, big and gaudy move fish to the surface.
Scroll to the bottom of this page for additional fly patterns and tips!

June Hatches

Click any photo below to find out more information on each individual hatch. Includes life cycle, best fly patterns, helpful tips and where to find these hatches in your Western Montana fly fishing adventure.